Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Number 739

Crandall and Fine...a couple of originals

These covers, both original art and printed versions, are from Heritage Auctions. I found them during one of my foraging forays into their fantastic archives.

The first impression I have of the covers is that graphically, while all are well drawn, from a commercial standpoint Reed Crandall's Modern Comics covers are much stronger than the Lou Fine National Comics covers, which have too many confusing elements.

The Fine covers are early, from 1940, the Crandall covers from 1948. By that time most comic book publishers had learned what covers sold comic books, and at Quality the late 1940's motto seemed to be, "keep it simple." The less elements, the less time it takes for a person looking at a newsstand to make a decision.

The worst cover is National Comics #9, which is a confusing mess of activity. The next worse would be #5, with that oddball looking skull peering out at us. Why the unusual placement of the skull? Neither illustration looks guided by an editor's hand.

The Crandall covers are just the opposite, with action clearly read. My favorite is Modern Comics #77, with its Beast Men cover, and next to that is #78, the girl with butterfly wings. I've said before that Crandall's action panels look to me like dioramas, people frozen in motion, but from a commercial standpoint these covers are posters which popped out at a newsstand browser.

Considering the auction prices realized for these covers, the buyers of the original artworks disagree with me. The National Comics #5 cover sold for $50,787.50.

The top price for one of the Crandall covers was the Madame Butterfly original, which went for just under half that amount, at $23,900.00.


Tamfos said...

There's no question but that these Crandall covers are far superior to the featured Fine covers, but original Fine work will always realize better prices at auction than Reed's stuff will. A shame, really, as Crandall was a great cover artist in this period for that poster-like quality he gave them. And to be fair, Fine did some excellent covers that had their own posterish appeal. Just not any of these.

Peter Bernard said...

Are you trying to refute John Kricfalusi's theory taht all art has degenerated over time? haha

The kids like Fine better BECAUSE HE KICKS ASS. He draws the way a kid thinks. Which has no xtructure, no heirarchy. Kids LIKE anarchy.

Peter Bernard said...

oops sorry for the typos.